How certain were the Cleveland Browns that Johnny Manziel was their guy when they traded up to the No. 22 spot in the first round of the draft? That depends on who you ask.
According to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, there is a “story going around” that Browns general manager Ray Farmer was about to select Teddy Bridgewater with the 22nd pick when team owner Jimmy Haslam stepped in at the last second.
A source told me that the card prepared to be given to Commissioner Roger Goodell for the official announcement in Radio City Music Hall originally had Bridgewater’s name on it. Then with 10 seconds to go, a new card replaced it with the name of Johnny Manziel, as a result of owner Jimmy Haslam’s order.
Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert told Grossi that he was in the draft room and that never happened. Farmer reiterated that Haslam did not force the Browns’ football people into making any decisions on draft day.
“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Jimmy Haslam at no point demanded, requested or tried to influence the process in any way,” Farmer said. “He definitely asked questions. He’ll definitely give his opinion of what he thinks and all of those things are fine, but at the end of the day he trusted the football staff to make the decisions that we thought were the right decisions for this football team.”
There has been little to no buzz surrounding the Browns over the past several years, so you can understand why Haslam would have wanted to pick Manziel. He’s also a very good football player who brings a winning attitude. Plus, Haslam said a homeless person convinced him to draft Manziel when he was out to dinner days before the draft. There’s no way the change was made with 10 seconds left on the clock, right?
H/T The Big Lead